I could go with "We should all despise Donald Trump," or "We should all vote for Bernie," or another political hot-button topic. I could make a philosophical statement like "We should all love one another," or "We should all embrace change," but I don't feel like it. Everything I come up with seems cheesy. I came up with gross ideas like "We should all wipe afterwards," and "We should all pee standing up," but I don't have much to say about that either. Sigh.
So I'm going to punt and not write on that topic. We should all not limit ourselves in our writing. How's that? Instead, I had a very cool moment with a couple students yesterday. It was at the end of my prep period and a few kids were hanging out in my room getting some work done and chatting when the topic turned to music. I was minding my own business on my computer when I decided to play some Jose Gonzalez on YouTube because I'm going to his concert in a couple months. One of the students, Grace, said, "I love Jose Gonzalez! If you like him, you'll love Ben Howard!" She then pushed me out of the way and typed in Ben Howard's name into the search bar and boom, there was a Ben Howard video. I'd never heard of him but it was awesome. Now it was my turn and I typed in "Alexi Murdoch" and then it was on. We went back and forth, sharing music we loved. Meanwhile, Marcie, another student, was sitting nearby and threw out a couple suggestions, which were excellent. Bottom line is that I ended up with a big fat list of new music to listen to and I'm stoked about it.
Developing relationships with students is important for teachers but there isn't a specific way to do so. I think you just need to grab the moments when they present themselves. My experience with Grace and Marcie and sharing our music wasn't a big deal in the grand scheme of life but it was a shared connection and there is beauty and power in that. And I also have some cool new music to listen to.
Instead of reviewing a specific piece of literature, I want to share a writer I have recently found and cannot read enough of. He is Kiese Laymon and he's an African-American author from Mississippi. I've seen him be called a "Poor man's Ta-Nehisi Coates" but I don't think he is a poor man's anything. I love reading Coates, but Laymon's writing is more raw. Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates makes you think but reading Kiese Laymon makes you feel.